Maryland Protective Orders: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a protective order?

A protective order is a court order that bars a person from committing certain acts against another person. They are usually enacted if there have been documented cases of abuse or cruelty. People who have been in a romantic relationship, are related to the offender or vulnerable adults can request a protective order against their abuser if necessary.

Protective orders are designed to prevent one person from contacting another. They may be barred from living with them for a specific amount of time (which varies depending on the type of protective order). These orders can also end a destructive cycle of harassment or abuse.

  1. What types of protective orders are there?

As of this writing, there are currently three different kinds of protective orders in the state of Maryland. An interim protective order is the first step. It may be awarded if the court can determine that the requestor has been abused in some way. A temporary protective order hearing will be scheduled after an interim protective order has been issued. It may require the offender to vacate the home that they occupied with the plaintiff, in addition to being prohibited from contacting the defendant and any minor children that they may have. A final protective order can be awarded if enough proof that the defendant’s continued association plaintiff could prove to be detrimental to that person’s overall well-being.

  1. Is a protective order the same as a restraining order?

Restraining orders and protective orders are not identical. Maryland does not have restraining orders. Some states may have restraining orders that perform many, if not all, of the same functions that Maryland’s protective orders do. Maryland does not have restraining orders at present. Some states may have restraining orders that perform many, if not all, of the same functions that Maryland’s protective orders do.

  1. How can I request a protective order?

You can start by visiting your local county clerk or commissioner’s office and fill out a complaint form. The person making the initial complaint may be asked to appear in front of a judge. The person they are accusing of cruelty or abuse does not need to be present at that hearing.

  1. How long do protective orders last?

An interim protective order will either expire on the day of the temporary protective order hearing or on the second day after it has been issued. A temporary protective order is valid for up to seven days from the day that the offender was served with a copy of the order. These orders may be extended for up to 6 months if necessary. Most final protective orders are good for up to 1 year.

The court may also issue a permanent protective order after interim, temporary and final protective orders have expired. The person asking for a permanent protective order must be able to prove that the offender committed an act of abuse against them, and that the offender was sentenced to a prison term of 5 years or more and has already served 12 months or more of that sentence. Also, that the defendant’s crime to which they were sentenced to a minimum of 5 years in jail and has served at least a year for that offense was an abusive act that resulted in the protective order request. These orders may last for the rest of the plaintiff’s natural life unless they specifically ask for the court to end that order.

  1. Can I change a protective order?

Protective orders may be modified if needed. A hearing will be scheduled regarding those modifications. All involved parties will receive notice of the request.

  1. What happens if the terms of a protective order are broken?

Your local law enforcement office should be contacted as soon as possible if the abuser continues to contact you or your children or attempts to harm you in any way. The offender may be ordered to serve time in jail and/or pay a fine for their actions. Failure to comply with a protective order is punishable by a prison term of no more than 90 days and a fine of up to $500.

If emergency family maintenance payments were required in the protective orders and those payments are in arrears, that can also be considered a violation of the protective order. The person who was supposed to receive those funds can file for contempt. A hearing will be set so the judge can evaluate the decision and determine whether or not the order was violated and if they need to issue another order that will instruct the offender to continue making those payments effective immediately.

  1. Can my protective order be enforced in another state?

Each state’s laws are different, but a protective order that was issued in Maryland will be valid in other states. This is due to the U.S. Constitution’s full faith and credit clause and the federal Violence Against Women Act. Maryland courts will also enforce protective or restraining orders that were issued by Native American tribes or courts in other states. Section 4-506 of the Maryland Code’s Family Law Article dictates the relief that will be given. Not all types of relief can be enforced or will be available.

  1. Why should I get a protective order?

If you have a spouse, domestic partner or relative who has abused you or your children, you may want to consider asking for a protective order. The person may also have visited your place of work or school or tried to harass you or your child. Abusers sometimes don’t know when to stop. They may have a pattern of verbal and physical abuse that can take months, weeks, years or decades for victims to recover from.

  1. Can both parties request protective orders?

Both parties can ask for protective orders if they so choose. If they are requested from the same court system, a judge may issue mutual orders. Evidence that abuse was committed by each person against the other must be present before such orders can be granted. Both parties must be proven to be the main aggressor against the other, and no party can claim that their actions were made in self-defense for themself or their children.

If you’ve been served with a protective order or need to file a protective order, we can assist. Contact us to set up a free consultation. We’ll listen to your concerns. Our trained professionals can help you locate the necessary paperwork and advise as to possible next steps. Protective orders aren’t always easy, but they can be essential for maintaining a happier, healthier life.

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